In 1948, Jordan took over the West Bank.

From the Wikipedia article, I read that other Arab countries were strongly opposed to the Jordanian occupation. Jordan came close to being expelled from the Arab League over it. Presumably Israel was not happy about it either, given that Jordan destroyed most of the synagogues and expelled all the Jews from East Jerusalem.

I'm wondering whether Arab population in the West Bank were happy with Jordan in charge, or if they thought of themselves being occupied by Jordanian foreigners. From the article

During the December 1948 Jericho Conference, hundreds of Palestinian notables in the West Bank gathered accepted Jordanian rule and recognized Abdullah as ruler. [Who were these notables? Did they represent the West Bank population at large, or not?]


The radio of Ramallah called the locals to disobey the instructions of pro-Husseini officials and obey those of the Jordanian-backed governors.[The former Grand Mufti Mohammed Amin al-Husseini was opposed to Jordan, but why? And to what extent did ordinary Arabs in the West Bank agree with him?]


When Jordan transferred its full citizenship rights to the residents of the West Bank, the annexation more than tripled the population of Jordan, going from 400,000 to 1,300,000.[4][12] The naturalized Palestinians enjoyed equal opportunities in all sectors of the state without discrimination, and they were given half of the seats of the Jordanian parliament... Unlike any other Arab country to which they fled after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Palestinian refugees in the West Bank (and on the East Bank) were given Jordanian citizenship on the same basis as existing residents.[I haven't read the sources to which these claims are cited, but this sounds like more favourable treatment than the Gazans got from Egypt, or current West Bank gets from Israel]


Despite Arab League opposition, the inhabitants of the West Bank became citizens of Jordan.[Why was the Arab League opposed to to Jordanian control of the West Bank?]


Tensions continued between Jordan and Israel through the early 1950s, with Palestinian guerrillas and Israeli commandos crossing the Green Line. [Were the Palestinian guerillas crossing from the West Bank to Israel or the other way around?]

Jordan lost control of the West Bank to Israel in the 1967 war. I can find many references to Palestinian vs Jordanian conflict after 1967, but none before it, only fighting between Israel and Palestinians that sometimes happened on Jordanian territory.

As far as I can tell, no political group in Palestine since 1967 has advocated for the restoration of Jordanian control, but for an independent country. This makes me think that Jordanian rule must have been unpopular with Arabs in the West Bank. Was it?

Edit: I'm not naive and aware that Arabs in the West Bank are not a homogenous mass. However I don't know what intra-Arab distinctions are relevant to the question - I hope for that to come from an answer.

  • 3
    Identities are fluid. If they consider themselves different now, that doesn't mean that they always did.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 12:05
  • 2
    Agreed. I think this, obviously, may be a very contentious topic. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 12:21
  • Well, at least we know Syrians didn't want to become Egyptians. Or at least be ruled by them. (UAR fiasco, later on.) Opinions in '48 may have been more optimistic though. Jordan was also involved in a little experiment like that in '58 with Iraq. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 14:16
  • FWTW, Jordan itself took at turn to authoritarianism after '57, suppressing most political parties etc. palestine-studies.org/en/node/202343 That could not have gone down too well with Palestinians. But that also makes research difficult, as I imagine there were consequently not any public polls on the popularity of the annexation, after '57. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 14:39
  • 2
    So, it's a complex question; I suspect that some pan-Bankism [to coin a term] was and probably even is fighting against "yeah, but whose Jordan?" Basically, in a pure democracy, Jordan + West Bank would have been politically dominated by Palestinians. Except the king had no intention of going for that. Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 15:13

1 Answer 1


This is a bit brief, but my hunches from the comments can be summarized by these two paras from Avraham Sela's "The West Bank Under Jordan" (chapter in The Palgrave Handbook of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan):

Although the political history of the West Bank during the period under discussion was fraught with alienation and defiance towards the Hashemite establishment, their 19 years of unity with Jordan can be divided into two equal periods namely, 1948–57 and 1957–67. During the first decade, the absolute control of the king and his security establishment over the political system enabled the Hashemite monarchy to maintain some flexibility with the West Bank-based political opposition. Aware of the host of contradictions between the West Bank residents and their administration, the Hashemite rulers adopted a strategy of avoiding brutal repression and reducing frictions with their opponents as much as possible. Such policy was preferable for both earning domestic and Arab legitimacy for the union and diffusing tensions between both parts of the kingdom.

This strategy of walking a tightrope in relation with the West Bank came to an end in April 1957 with the dismissal of the short-lived government of Suleiman al-Nabulsi over crucial differences concerning the international orientation of the Kingdom and the continued authoritarian nature of the monarchic regime. The following decade saw a shift towards more violence and repression in the relations between the regime and Palestinian opposition largely due to the latter’s subversion under the Hashemite monarch and the escalating inter-Arab ideological and political rivalries inspired by Gamal Abdal Nasser and his Palestinian adherents in the West Bank.

And after accounting for some economics figures and the well known external Arab (Egypt-led) opposition to the annexation:

The poor Jordanian economy remained dependent on the foreign financial aid of which only a small part could be dedicated to social and economic development. The dire economic conditions triggered a broad tendency of infiltration into Israel’s territory, beginning as attempts to harvest and cultivate previously owned land, then committing property thefts, which soon assumed the form of sabotage and murder. With the broadening phenomenon of cross-border infiltrations, sabotage, and attacks on its citizens, Israel adopted a policy of military retaliation against Palestinian villages—often dragging Jordanian military forces into the fray—and official institutions such as police stations.

In 1951, the Jordanian government established the National Guard in which all men at the age of 20–40 would have to actively serve in defence of the border villages. At its peak in the mid-1950s, the National Guard encompassed 40,000 men organised in 46 battalions armed with only light weapons and maintained under strict control of the Arab Legion (Bar-Lavi 1981, 23). Israel’s military retaliations continued until late October 1956 when, following the Suez War, the Jordanian authorities managed to control their border with Israel better. The harshest Israeli retaliation was the raid on the village Qibya in October 1953 in which an Israel Defence Force (IDF) unit killed 69 civilians, many of them women and children, and bombed some 45 homes. Israel’s military retaliations resulted in repeated outcries by Palestinian politicians against the passivity of the military, calling for arming the border villagers to enable them to protect themselves. The public criticism against the armed forces was directly aimed at the anomaly of Jordanian army being commanded by British officers.

Not said there, but that division was probably later the seed of the infighting between Bedouin (king supporting) and hadari (non-Bedouin) units; more on that in Wikipedia's biography of Ali Abu Nuwar.

The Palestinians in Jordan sensed political deprivation and discrimination by the Hashemite regime concerning power-sharing in the unified kingdom despite their formal equality to East Jordanians. Indeed, although Palestinians constituted two-thirds of the population in the Kingdom and despite their better education and experience in administration, the central state institutions, especially the security system, remained strictly held by East Jordanians. The sense of political discrimination was strongly expressed by the West Bank representatives of the opposition parties in the Parliament and through the printed media, by repeatedly demanding democratisation of the political system.

Within this context, Palestinian representatives insisted on three significant constitutional changes, namely free political association, making the government accountable to a freely elected Parliament, and the introduction of a general draft to the military. The implementation of these demands would practically shift the political power to the Palestinian majority and reflect its decisive demographic weight in the military as well. The regime, on its part, allowed the opposition, mostly located in the West Bank, to play an active role in the parliamentary system albeit without an official approval of political existence as parties and in strict “rules of the game,” employing punitive measures, such as imprisonment of political figures and bans on the opposition printed media for violating those rules. Nonetheless, following years of repression and fraudulent elections, under the growing Nasserist tide (see below) and intense political agitation of the opposition groups in support of “Arabisation of the military” and breaking up with the British patronage of Jordan, the regime held free elections in October 1956. [...]

The democratic parliamentary election of October 1956 brought about the first government of typical opposition parties, including the leader of the Ba’ath Party, ’Abdallah al-Rimawi from Ramallah and ’Abd al-Qadir al-Saleh from Nablus who was identified with the Communist Party. Prime Minister Sulayman al-Nabulsi’s government, however, was short-lived due to foreign policy decisions that collided head-on with the monarchy’s traditionally western orientation. The most salient of all was the “Arab Solidarity Agreement” signed with Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia in January 1957 by which the latter Arab States were to cover Jordan’s defence expenditures instead of hitherto British aid. [...]

April 1957 was saturated with growing popular demonstrations in the West Bank cities organised by the opposition parties and escalating tension between the government and the monarchic establishment. The tension reached its peak over the government’s declaration on establishing diplomatic relations with the USSR, on the one hand, and the king’s welcoming of the Eisenhower Doctrine. The sense of crisis reached its height with the allegedly failed military coup attempt against the king followed by his decisions to dismiss the government, outlaw all parties, and declare a state of emergency, all of which triggered broad popular demonstrations and protests in the West Bank cities and escape of leading opposition leaders and senior military officers to Syria. [...]

Rimawi and other opposition figures who fled to Damascus conducted subversive and terrorist activities against the Jordanian regime with unhidden support by the UAR. [...] The efforts of Jordan’s enemies to undermine its domestic stability included sabotage and terrorist attacks—peaked in the assassination of Prime Minister Hazza’ al-Majali in August 1960—and many coup attempts by military officers of East Jordanian descent connected to the Jordanian-Palestinian Ba’ath Party aimed at toppling the regime.[...]

Domestically, the aftermath of April 1957 witnessed a decisively restrictive approach of the Hashemite regime towards any indication of opposition against the regime, especially in the West Bank. This policy grew more repressive parallel to the escalating activities, both domestic and external, of subversion and resistance to the regime’s very existence. Henceforth, the regime adopted a tight control over all aspects of political life in the Kingdom. Following the crisis of April 1957, the regime disbanded all political parties in the country, turning the Parliament into a façade of political representation without any real say by the public about the king’s appointment of loyalist figures as representatives. The ban on party activity was accompanied by harsh persecution of former and actual members of the opposition parties, including imprisonment and tortures (Bar-Lavi 1981, 31). Similarly, the press came under strict control, and in return for their “good behaviour,” the publishers received an official subsidy from the government.

Parallel to repressing the opposition groups, the regime turned to foster traditional patronage relations with local leaders, especially his traditional supporters among the Bedouin population in the southern part of East Jordan. Of all the pre-1957 parties and political movements, the regime allowed only the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] to continue their social and political activities. Though the movement’s leaders constantly preached the application of the Islamic law (shari’a) and criticised cultural westernisation and the regime’s close relations with Britain and the US, the MB traditionally supported the monarch, especially against the tide of Nasserism and its nationalist-leftist supporters (Cohen 1982, Ch. 4). The MB’s main areas of support in the West Bank were in Hebron and Nablus, and their senior members served as ministers with many others taking important positions in the Jordanian administration.

So, essentially only the Muslim Brotherhood could [officially] represent the West Bank interests after '57, inside the Jordanian political establishment.

Despite the harsh repression of the political parties in the kingdom, the West Bank population continued to be highly responsive to nationalist events in the Arab arena such as the establishment of the UAR and the military coup in Iraq. The breakup of the UAR caused a deep frustration among many Palestinians, especially in the West Bank, but the tripartite unity agreement between Egypt, Syria, and Iraq in April 1963 once again took thousands of demonstrators to the streets of Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Nablus in support of Jordan incorporation to the newly established Arab union, which turned very short-lived. This time the regime took no risks by harshly repressing the demonstrations by military force [citations].

And then there was the '64 détente with Naser, which however brought new problems for Jordan (the PLO and Fatah) culminating in the same old demands from the West Bank:

The Arab summit conference held in January 1964 in Cairo signalled a new era of mitigated inter-Arab tensions and rapprochement between Jordan and Egypt following years of hostility and conflict, not without a cost for the former. In return for Nasser’s conciliatory approach, Hussein gave his consent to the establishment in May 1964 of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) by Ahmad al-Shuqayri, as a political framework of the vaguely defined structure of the ‘Palestinian Entity’. Shukeiri was a veteran Palestinian politician and diplomat who had just inherited the position of representative of the “All-Palestine Government” (established in September 1948 in Gaza City) in the Arab League. If the Hashemite king assumed he could control the PLO by having many of his Palestinian loyalists participating in the founding conference, the newly established organisation turned into a primary cause of frustration for the Jordanian government. This was primarily due to Shuqayri’s demands that challenged Jordan’s sovereignty, such as establishing a Palestinian army on Jordan’s territory under the PLO’s authority, taxation of Palestinian salaries in the Kingdom, and arming the border villages. At the same time, the Jordanian monarch could not ignore the enthusiasm and rising national sentiments among Palestinians, especially in the West Bank, about the newly established organisation.

The establishment of the PLO coincided with the rise of the Palestine Liberation Movement (harakat tahrir filastin known in its abbreviations as FaTaH). On 1 January 1965, the organisation launched its first sabotage action in Israel following a few years of clandestine ideological and mobilisation preparations, including in the West Bank. Contrary to the Arab patronage of the PLO, Fatah was a grassroots organisation representing authentic Palestinian nationalist commitment, hence the heated competition between the two. The Fatah attacks against Israel from the West Bank territory once again triggered repeated Israeli retaliations against Jordanian targets though the Jordanian regime made sincere efforts, albeit partly successful, to repress the Fatah and other Palestinian activists and prevent infiltrations across the border with Israel.

The last two years of the Hashemite rule over the West Bank thus saw a rising Palestinian nationalist sentiment which grew stronger along with the growing feud between the Jordanian government on the one hand and Shuqayri and his Egyptian patrons on the other and repression of Fatah’s activists in the West Bank. In November 1966, Israel launched a massive raid on the village of Samu’ south of Hebron in retaliation for the killing of three Israeli soldiers by a mine explosion within Israel. Fifteen Jordanian Army soldiers were killed, and over 50 homes were destroyed. The responses that erupted in the West Bank cities were the gravest of all in the history of their relations with the Hashemite regime and the most dangerous for the latter’s stability indicating the peak of the Palestinisation of the West Bank residents.

The mass demonstrations and strikes assumed an unprecedented scope and organisation, including the sporadic use of firearms by the demonstrators against the Jordanian soldiers sent to repress them. The opposition leaders behind the protest represented primarily local interests of notable families in addition to being strongly encouraged by outside incitement. At the height of the turmoil, they signed a joint “covenant” with a list of far-reaching political demands reminiscent of the grievances and demands of the Palestinian opposition in the early 1950s, especially the democratisation of Jordan. Indeed, had the 1966 demands been accepted, it would have resulted in Palestinian autonomy [citations]

Wikipedia's coverage of the last event only mentions that

King Hussein was faced with a storm of criticism for failing to protect Samu, emanating from Jordanians, as well as from Palestinians and neighboring Arab countries. Riots spread throughout the West Bank demanding the king be overthrown. Four Palestinians were killed by Jordanian police as a result of the riots. On 20 November, Hussein ordered nationwide military service.

Alas, I could not find a more grassroots account than that. And as you can see, Sela's account is rather focused on the implications of the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts for Jordan.

  • 5
    Thanks. It sounds overall as if people in the West Bank were not particularly happy about being ruled by Jordan. As always people want to talk about Israel even when the question is not about that.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 18:03
  • Is there any explanation why the former Grand Mufti, Amin al-Husseini, did not want Jordan? His opposition to Jordan seems to predate Nasser's pan-Arab ambitions. He was no longer relevant by the 1960s, but in 40s/50s seems to have been a major figure.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 11:47
  • So in short, the answer to the question in the title is "Yes." ?
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 14:37
  • The question has the form 'did hundreds of thousands of people support something or other'. The trivial answer to that question is always yes, there were people on both sides. However, I can't see a single example here of somebody in the West Bank saying it was good to have Jordan in charge. I'm not counting the 'notables' invited to a Jordanian conference in Jordan-controlled Jericho.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 13:16

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